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Music DVD Review: Rock The Bells, Hip Hop History Live on DVD

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Rock The Bells marks a historic milestone for Hip-Hop music and film. The movie is a brief glimpse at the hard work, love and dedication behind one of the most popular festivals catering to rap music and its fans. With coverage of rap personalities on and off stage, Rock The Bells, shows us what it takes to make it in Hip-Hop.

The story of Rock The Bells has several main characters, with concert promoter Chang Weisberg leading the way. Chang and his Guerilla Union crew put together the first, all day event. Hip-Hop fans in Southern California owe these guys a great deal. RTB has grown into a staple for summer music festivals, and plans on taking the show national in 2007 with New York and San Fransico dates added. Over the last 2 years, lucky concert goers were able to see some of the most memorable on stage sets live under the lazy, California summer sun.

The event might not have even happened if it weren’t for a canceled show in New York, back in the mid-nineties. Chang was inspired years later to put his own  show together, and thought about adding some of his favorite rap acts to the bill. Rock The Bells goes to show the headaches, fumbles, unexpected delays, and incredible fun that comes with putting on the greatest Hip-Hop show on earth! We get to follow the crew as they deal with gate jumpers, security problems and the chore of sneaking thousands of dollars past a crowd of concert goers.

The DVD is filled with great performances with Supernatural and his son Haj ripping the stage; the antics of Redman, who goes from Funk Doc mode to caring dad, as he has a heartwarming scene with his son who doesn’t want to see his favorite rapper leave the house. The story behind RTB is that underneath all the hoopla, we are all average, everyday B-Boys and Girls. That is until we are on the stage rocking the mic. 

This DVD is a very tight package, with interviews from many of the movers and shakers behind the huge event, all giving their perspective and flavor to the disc.  Chuck D, Davey D, DJ Choc, Sway & Tech, and all the members of The Wu Tang Clan are here, talking to the camera and re-telling the story of RTB. 

Other notable performances on the DVD are Sage Francis and his food throwing set. Francis is so odd at times that his performances prompted Supernat to warn his son about watching Francis perform, stating that he was “A little different”. Dilated People, Eyedea + Abilities, and Charlie 2NA are also here, but the highlight of the movie has to be the crowd favorites, The Wu-Tang Clan.

Chang helped make history by bringing all the members of The Wu-Tang Clan together on stage, which was not an easy task. The nine man, dream team crew had something of a reputation for not showing up at concerts, causing all kinds of hell to break out in venues across America. The love for The Clan is so strong in Hip-Hop circles that a no-show by just one of the members might cause a full on riot. This was the case at RTB ’04, as last minute delays threatened to send the crowd into a frenzy. The scene of Sway trying to entertain the crowd, after an hour of stalls, is enough to make you truly worry about his safety. When he asked the crowd what they thought of President Bush, it was hard to tell if they were booing GW or Sway for delaying the show.

The real reason for the wait was due totally to the late, great ODB. After agreeing to do the show, Dirt McGirt refused to leave his hotel room. While paying concert goers chanted WU, ODB had changed his mind yet again and decided he wasn’t going to Shimmy Shimmy on stage for anyone. While the camera missed this particular piece of footage, it is rumored that “security” actually went to the hotel and kidnapped ODB and brought him to the concert.  While RZA and Chang stress over the problem and make the last minute calls, ODB finally arrives, ready for his close up and ultimately his last show.  

The show would soon be the most talked about rap performance of the year. Chang would go on to watch his festival and DVD further write itself into the Hip-Hop History, as the show was the last time the original nine members of The Wu-Tang Clan would perform together. ODB passed away a few months after the show and the DVD is the last Clan show ever filmed. You should buy the DVD for that alone. Thank God the entire movie is equally entertaining and worthwhile.

Rock The Bells simply rocks! Make sure you mark your calendar for the 2007 show which should be even bigger than before, with a line-up that includes The Roots, EPMD, Cypress Hill, MF Doom, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, headliners Rage Against The Machine and many more!

Check below for my own Rock The Bells clips, on YouTube, and photos from Rock The Bells 2005 and 2006!

Wu Walk (2005 show, somehow I found myself walking backstage while members of The Wu Tang Clan walked along.  You can hear the DJ warming it up and fans from behind the gate calling for Raekwon.  A nice little clip of real Hip-Hop going down live!)

Ghost takes the stage (Another nice short clip of Ghost about to hit the stage to Criminology)

Concert Review: Rock The Bells IV – Hip Hop History Live On Stage from Blogcritics


Backstage at Rock The Bells concert, Pt 1

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